Thursday, January 14, 2021

Quilt Reveal - 2020 Color Challenge

 I love when it's time to reveal quilts!

I enjoyed making the blocks each month and learning about the birds that 
Jen - of Patterns by Jen used to introduce each month's color. 
I think that is such a fun way to choose colors!  


These fabrics...


have turned into these two quilts.



If you followed along each month of 2020, you know that I used a group of batiks that I purchased from Once Upon a Quilt in Ft. Lauderdale 
while I was there for a workshop in Dec. of 2019.
Like I had done the previous year, I decided to make two sets of blocks. This time one set would be made with a white background and one with black. 

After making the first couple of blocks, I started thinking about the quilt layout. I have to admit that when I work with batiks, I typically use either a black or white for the background. I think those two colors just make the batiks pop and look awesome. Here are a couple of examples of quilts that I've made that demonstrate what I mean.

Compass Points - Tamarinis

Bloom - Cut Loose Press pattern

Mandalynn - Busy Hands Quilts

Prairie Star - Judy Niemeyer

See what I mean? How could I go wrong with using black and white background fabric?

I was considering making one very large quilt (these two each measure 63" x 81") and incorporate both sets of blocks into one quilt. It didn't take long before I changed my mind and decided that I was going to go a different route.

Look closely at the two quilts and you will see that they are exactly the same, except for the background fabrics. 


Every block is in the same place, framed by the same fabric, sashing stars are identical, and even the scrappy flanged binding fabrics are placed in identical order. 
(Yep! I may be a little OCD.) 

I even made the backings identical, just changing the color/fabric. 



It's hard to see, but I quilted both of these the same way as well - with a free motion loopy design. You can really see it on the white quilt, but not so much on the black one.



Because the blocks were placed randomly and not according to the month they were completed, I decided to place the scrappy flange binding in the order the fabric was used. Realizing that didn't really tell me which fabric was used first, I decided to add a little reference guide in the binding. 



Since it's on top, I know that yellow was the January color and red was December. All the other months/fabric fall in the correct order in between those two. Just to be sure that I have it correct, the flange fabrics follow the same order as the fabrics in the guide. I think this is just plain fun and adds a bit of interest.  :-) 

I like this addition to the binding and have done it on some other quilts. 


On this one, I took the opportunity to add my label at the same place 
as the binding addition.


Even though I had lots of time to get pictures of this quilt, of course I waited until it was a windy day. It's always so much fun trying to take pictures when it's windy. Jack is feeling better, which is a good thing because and he and Lynn were pretty darn quick at stopping the rack from being blown over. 


I had a couple of other great helpers too! Whenever a big gust of wind would start, these two would run over and stand in front of the quilt, trying to hold it in place. 


Peyton even got down on the ground and held the bottom of the quilt so I could get a picture of the binding from the back.  :-) 


I am one lucky woman to have this much help. 
Not a single one of them mentioned the fact that I could have taken 
these pictures a month ago.  :-)

Let's see some other finished 2020 Monthly Challenge quilts!

This is just a handful of the many other quilters who met the challenge and created some amazing projects. 

(Our amazing hostess for the challenge!)




rainbows. bunnies. cupcakes



I had a lot of fun making these blocks and quilts, and 
I'm already enjoying the 2021 blocks. 

There's still time to participate in for the 2021 Challenge
Simply go to Jen's blog and get the free pattern.
I hope you join the fun!
 
I already know how I'm going to finish my 2021 projects. 
Hopefully I won't wait until a windy, rainy, or snowy day to take pictures.  :-) 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Sneak Peak

Friday I will be revealing what I made with these wonderful fabrics! 


These are the fabrics I used for my 2020 Monthly Color Challenge hosted by Jen of Patterns by Jen. Each month in 2020 you saw the blocks that I made, so you've kind of already had a sneak peak. But... now that the blocks are all done and put together, I am VERY excited.

The 2021 Challenge has already started, but you can still join the fun. This year's colors were inspired by fruits and vegetables. January's color is purple and the food is eggplant. 


I'm making two blocks again this year (12" and 6") and already know what I want to do when all twelve blocks (actually, 24 blocks) are done. I'm excited but won't share my plan for a while. I have to make sure that it will work first.  :-) 

Monday, January 4, 2021

Design Wall Monday

I had a project on the design wall this weekend, but a conversation with my husband resulted in that quilt being taken down and a very old project of his being put up there.  

We are scheduled to go on a trip in May and we were discussing that. Jack really wants to do some hiking, but has admitted that might not happen because of health issues. We were talking about things he could do and I mentioned that he could work on the quilt he started quite some time ago. He said he would think. We wrapped up that discussion and each got busy with other things.

About an hour later, I went to the kitchen to do a few things and when I returned, I found this on the cutting table.


This tub has been packed away and stored on a shelf under my pressing table for quite some time. It was put there after Jack last worked on his quilt. He had spent quite a bit of time playing around with the fabrics and making the blocks. He had started to sew the rows together and was excited to get it ready for the quilting. I remember him putting it up on the design wall to talk about it with my brother Jerry, only to find a mistake in the bottom row. 


Do you see the mistake? Right there in the middle of the bottom row. He had even started playing with border options. (Ok, what was I thinking to have dyed that design wall fabric that color???)


Fast forward to yesterday... 

While I was preparing dinner, the quilt top that I finished sewing together Saturday (I can't show it because it's a pattern test), was taken down and this replaced it. 


The mistake has been taken apart and placed correctly. Jack inventoried the contents of the storage container, typed out the hand-written notes, and has once again started thinking about border and quilting options. :-) The quilt is being removed from the wall as I type up this post, and all of the rows are being labeled and organized. I don't think he plans on working on this until our trip, but he is excited to finish this. I am excited for him!

Maybe it's the new year, but the idea of finishing a project that has been put away for so long is really appealing to me. This got set aside because it needed "fixed" and other things took precedence. (Most likely those other things included me reclaiming the design wall and rarely having it empty. But that's another story...)

The reemergence of this project has me thinking. I have A LOT of UFOs and I think it is high time that I pull them out and evaluate them. I need to be honest with myself and prioritize these projects. Who knows; I might fall in love with a project that found it's way into storage and move it to the front of the "to do" list. 

But in reality, I am sure that will not happen to most of the projects and I'm ok with that. It's ok to decide that it's not perfect, but that doesn't mean that I can't finish it and give it to someone who can use it and maybe even love it. It's also ok to decide that I no longer have a desire to work on something. If that is the case, I then need figure out how to give it a new home and a possible new life.

I will do this slowly, as I know myself well enough to know that I will fret about how much money I have tied up in each of these projects. But, it needs done and I know that I will feel better after having done this. It's a way to clear my sewing space and my head. After that, I can proceed with what gives me pleasure.  

Friday, January 1, 2021

New Year - New Color Challenge

 Happy New Year!

It's a new year, which means it's time for a new Color Challenge. WooHoo!


I've had a lot of fun participating in the Color Challenges hosted by Jen of Patterns by Jen the past few years and I'm looking forward to doing it again this year.  

So what is the Color Challenge and how can you participate? 

Each month, Jen will pick a color and a block and she will provide instructions on how to make that block in both a 12" and 6" version. 

Jen is quite clever with how she introduces the color each month. This year, she is using fruits and vegetables as the color inspiration. What fun!!


2021 Monthly Color Challenge Colors

January - Eggplant (Purple)
February - Lemon (Bright Yellow)
March - Yam (Red Orange)
April - Cherries (Red)
May - Potato (Brown)
June - Pumpkin (Orange)
July - Lime (Green)
August - Mushroom (Tan)
September - Pineapple (Soft Yellow)
October - Grapefruit (Pink)
November - Blueberries (Blue)
December - Green Olives (Olive Green)

Since we'll be talking about food all year, many of the bloggers (me included), 
will be sharing recipes each month, featuring the fruit or vegetable of the month. Yummy!
 
Speaking of the bloggers, there is an awesome group who have agreed to share posts each month. There will typically be six or seven of us, and it is so much fun to see how each of us interpret the color by our fabric choices. Be sure to check out the list below and visit each of the bloggers. I promise that you won't be disappointed!

About a month ago, Jen shared lots more information about the Challenge and pictures of her fabrics. She has LOTS of information, so be sure to check out her post

I forgot to take pictures of my fabrics before I cut into them, but I will tell you that my 12" blocks will all be made using fabric that has the fruit or vegetable in them. 
My 6" blocks are going to be made using 

I had the pleasure of meeting Cheryl at a workshop in 2019 and then worked with her 
via Zoom in November, 2020.  
She is one talented lady and I'm thrilled to be using her fabrics!


Like last year, there will be quarterly prizes.
Jen has a complete list of the sponsors HERE
There are a lot of sponsors, which means a lot of prizes!

All you have to do to be entered into the drawing is to make your block and then post a picture of it to the link up that Jen will share at the end of each month. 
Easy Peasy! 
(One link up entry per quilter each month, please.)

Thank you to the First Quarter Sponsors!
Let's show them our appreciation and check out their products.




Bea Quilter - PDF Pattern

Love to Color My World - PDF Pattern

Designs By Sarah J - Fabric Bundle and Book*

Cherrywood Hand Dyed Fabric - Monty Fabric Bundle*

Benartex - Fabric Bundle*

Quilters Dream Batting - 60 x 46 Dream Angel 100% Flame Retardant Fibers*

Quilters Dream Batting - 60 x 46 Dream Wool*

The Warm Company - 55 x 60 batting 80/20*

Appliques Quilts and More - $10 gift certificate

DayBrook Designs - 2 PDF Patterns

Patterns By Jen - PDF Patterns

Those marked with * are for US residents only. Prize laws vary throughout different countries.

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Are you going to join the fun and put lots of Color into 2021?
I am, so let's get started!

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January's color is purple 
and 
Eggplant is the food. 


Is eggplant a fruit or a vegetable? 

Botanically, eggplant is a berry, just like blueberries, watermelon, or tomatoes. 
In botany, a berry is a fruit in which the entire ovary wall ripens into an edible, 
relatively soft pericarp. 

Culinarily, it’s a vegetable
as it’s used in main dishes and not eaten for sweetness. 
(My recipe can be found at the end of this post, where you will also find some hints about choosing eggplants, how to store them, etc.)

Some of the earliest written evidence for eating eggplant is from the Charaka and Sushruta Samhitas, Ayurvedic texts written about 100 BC that describe the health benefits of eggplant.


Here are some Fun Facts about Eggplant 
In China, as part of her “bride price,” a woman must have at least
12 eggplant recipes prior to her wedding day.
In Turkey, “imam bayeldi,” a tasty treat of stuffed eggplant
simmered in olive oil is said to have made a religious leader swoon in ecstasy.

When first introduced in Italy, people believed that anyone who ate
the “mad apple” was sure to go insane.

Over 60% of eggplants are produced in China alone.
India, Egypt, Turkey, and Iran were also major producers.

While the fruit is often considered to be a bit odd looking,
the flower portion of the plant is quite beautiful.


********************************

Enough "talking!" Let's get to this month's blocks.

The steps to making this block are very simple and straightforward. 
Go to Jen's Blog for cut sizes and piecing instructions. 
I love it when designers include pressing information. Thanks Jen!!


I love the eggplant fabric in this block. It's fun and colorful! 
I decided to use my eggplant fabric for the background because I was afraid that it would be too chopped up it I used it for the pinwheel. 
I was excited to find this green in my stash, It's a perfect match to the stems. 


Isn't this 6" block adorable? I love the mosaic fabric as the background!

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Check out the other bloggers who are making this block. 
I just love how the change of fabric makes that blocks look totally different. 


********************************
So who's hungry?
I was introduced to Stuffed Eggplant about twenty-five years ago by a friend who spent many years in the Middle East. While I liked his version, I wasn't overly thrilled with the lamb that he used. The following recipe is the result of many experiments trying to come up with what my family likes best. 
It's not eggplant season, so I don't have a picture to share. 😞

Stuffed Eggplant
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 large eggplant
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 pound ground sausage (ground beef or lamb can be substituted)
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 1/4 cups grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs (plain or Italian seasoned)
1 egg
2 small tomatoes, chopped

Steps
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
2. Cut eggplant in half and scoop out center, leaving just enough meat inside the skin so that it holds it shape
3. Chop the scooped out eggplant into small pieces and place in a saucepan. Cover with water and boil until very soft  (10 - 15 minutes)
4. In medium saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the ground sausage, salt and pepper, and saute until all the liquid is gone and the sausage is slightly browned. Chop the sausage so there are no large chunks. Set aside. 
5. In another pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the the onion, red pepper and garlic. Saute until onion is translucent
6. In a bowl, mix together the cooked eggplant, parsley, basil, 1 cup Romano cheese, 1/4 cup bread crumbs, and the egg. 
7. Fill the scooped out eggplant halves with this mixture, divided evenly between the two halves
8. Top with chopped tomatoes, remaining 1/4 cup Romano cheese, and remaining 1/4 cup bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. 
9. Place stuffed eggplant halves on an oiled baking dish and bake 50 minutes. 
10. Let cool for 3 - 5 minutes. Slice widthwise and serve. 

Eggplant Buying Tips
This recipe uses a "globe" eggplant, which is sometimes called "American" eggplant. It is purple, large, and pear-shaped. Other eggplant varieties can range from green to white and be striated (lined). 
Choose an eggplant that is firm, evenly colored, and has unblemished skin. For this recipe, the eggplant should be fairly heavy, which means there will be plenty of meat.
The caps and stem should be in tact and not soft. (Softness can mean that the eggplant is old or beginning to mold.)
Refrigerate eggplant in a plastic bag for up to five days. 
Eggplant can be bitter, so some recipes require you to salt the chopped pieces and let them sit in a colander for up to one hour to remove bitterness. Rinsing the pieces under cold water and then squeeze drying will remove any saltiness. Be sure that the pieces are dried before cooking or there may be too much moisture and the eggplant will get soggy. (Ask me how I know this.)  

If you've never tasted eggplant, I hope you take this opportunity to give it a try.  

Stop back February 1st for the next Color Challenge Block!

Thursday, December 31, 2020

New Year's Eve - A Year in Review

I know that most of us are ready to say goodbye to 2020, and I totally get that. But, I always try to find the positive in things and today is no different. So, here are just a few things for which I am thankful about 2020.

1) Lynn and Ty welcomed Jordyn and Jayme to their family April 24th. Lynn and Ty are both teachers and the fact that the pandemic caused a shutdown of the schools, both of them were able to stay home after the birth. They entire family - all seven of them - were home together, every day until school started up again in the Fall. What a blessing! 💗 💗 💗 💗 💗 💗 💗



2) Jack and I have spent almost every day together since the shutdown - and we still like each other. 😂 Seriously, it was wonderful to spend so much time together. It was nice to slow down and talk, to prepare meals together, to discuss books, quilts, etc. We were mindful to take time and "smell the roses," as they say. Even after a terrible rain storm, we took time to enjoy the rainbow and it's awesome colors. 


3) It was a rough year medically around here. Jack's back surgery that was originally scheduled in March was postponed until June. That went well and all was good until the third week in July when he fell (swatting a wasp) and broke his ankle. That was rough, but I was home and helped with his recovery. We were even able to have a sense of humor during all of this. We have wonderful friends and family who wanted to be sure that we kept laughing. 


Yep! That's a can of wasp spray that mysteriously showed up on our doorstep.  hahaha


There's a joke in my family about my talking, (I do a lot of it!) and that taffy will help with that. I was taught to not talk with food in my mouth, so if someone wants me to stop talking, they hand me taffy. The same person who sent the wasp spray also send this package to Jack. Laugh all you want. It was delicious!


We were blessed with wonderful home health care providers during the whole ordeal. We were also blessed with family and friends who helped out. Every call, letter, card, etc. was a virtual hug and I know for certain that it has helped put things in perspective and has helped the healing process.




Healing is continuing, and we are so grateful for the health that we have. 
We are blessed!

4) I love to teach classes and we all know how that didn't happen much, right? This pandemic forced me to try new things. I joined forces with Dawn at Chestnut Ridge Sewing and organized and ran some Facebook sew alongs. I'd talked about doing that for quite some time, but never took the time to make that happen. That was fun and I'm working on more of those. 

  

 



5) I had the opportunity to meet (social distancing, of course) a few amazing quilt designers Krista Moser, Tammy Silvers, Christa Watson, and Janine Babich to name a few. 

    

This quilt is very special to me. It is my version of Krista Moser's Rockn' Roller Coaster, using Tammy Silvers Kismet fabric line. I was honored to meet and spend three days with both of these awesome ladies back in September during the much-revised Ohio's Amish Country Quilt Festival. I knew that I wanted to create something special from that time together and this is the result. I always find it amazing how something as simple as rotating a block or quilt can make a big difference. 

 

6) I joined a number of sew alongs and enjoyed every single one of them. There are lots of pictures one earlier blog posts and on my Facebook page, so I'm not going to repeat them here.

7) I tested a lot of patterns for designers this year and sewed some samples for others. I am blessed to be trusted by Rachel Rossi, Tammy Silvers, and Myra Barnes. I look forward working with these ladies in 2021 and sharing their amazing designs. (Like the pictures about the other sew alongs, there are lots of pictures previously posted. Be sure to check them out.) 

8) Most recently, our Christmas celebration was a little different than usual, but it was still wonderful. Spending time with family is extra special when it hasn't been able to happen often. 


We even took time to make and enjoy some Grinch Punch. 


I'm still sewing and working on lots of projects. Some UFOs have been finished, while others have been set aside once again. I've started and finished some new projects, including this little cutie. (I don't have a button for the center, but I still think it's cute.) 


What's to come in 2021?

Tomorrow will see the 2021 Color Challenge begin and I'm thrilled to be participating in that again. Jen of Patterns by Jen does such a great job with this and is quite clever with how she introduces the color each month. This year, she is using fruits and vegetables as the color inspiration. What fun!!


There is so much more to look forward to and I am choosing focus on that. 

I am choosing to challenge myself in my quilting. I am going to step out of my self-imposed box and try new things. I'm going to try new techniques, use more color, and learn to be more creative overall.

I'm choosing to work hard at being more organized in all aspects of my life. This will be a major undertaking, but I am being realistic in my expectations. I'm going to learn that saying "No" is totally acceptable.  

And finally, I am choosing to not take myself too seriously. Actually, I've already started that. Just imagine how I felt when I was getting ready for bed the other night and took off my earrings only to find that these were the earrings that I had been wearing ALL DAY LONG!  


I decided that had anyone said anything about the two different earrings, I was going say the same thing that I tell students. I don't make mistakes, I make design changes. I was choosing to make a fashion statement.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the end of 2020 and the hopes you have for 2021.

Thanks for spending 2020 with me! 
Happy New Year!